Monday, December 21, 2009

A New Moon: Team Edward, Team Jacob or Team Healthy Relationships?

So, have you seen New Moon yet? Silly question, I know. If you’re a fan, then the answer is probably “Yes, I’m on a first name basis with the ticket-takers by now.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about New Moon and the entire Twilight series recently. People have been asking me about the appeal of the series, of the relationships, and why so many people are so passion about Team Edward or Team Jacob. After talking with some friends, I think I may have come up with something.

We’ve all heard the criticism of the series and I can’t say that it’s wrong. I’m definitely persuaded by the people who point out that Edward shows an awful lot of the warning signs of an abusive relationship – sneaking into her room without her consent, constant jealousy of other guys talking to Bella, disabling her car to “protect” her, threatening to kill himself if they can’t be together.

Even Jacob, the warm, friendly counterpart to the cold and detached Edward, isn’t as perfect as he seems on the surface. He could transform into a wolf at any minute, particularly if he gets angry or loses control of his emotions. Just look at Sam’s fiancée, Emily, to see what can happen if you’re standing too close when that happens. Jacob even warns Bella that if he gets angry with her, he could lose control and be dangerous to her. That sounds to me like an excuse that I’ve heard from a lot of abusers – it’s not my fault, I lost control.

I could go on and on. There’s no shortage of articles, blogs, and discussions dissecting why Twilight doesn’t portray healthy relationships. We all know that Bella and Edward are not even close to the model of a healthy relationship. And I’d bet that most of us wouldn’t actually want their relationship as our own.

But why is it still so compelling?

I have a theory.

I think it’s Edward’s unwavering feelings for Bella that are so appealing. He thinks she’s perfect, just the way she is. She thinks she’s average-looking, awkward and tragically human. But to Edward, Bella is beautiful, caring, and worthy of his total devotion. He loves her because of her flaws, not in spite of them. Isn’t that we all hope for in a relationship? Love that is secure and stable, that will remain even when we occasionally act tragically human.

Of course, real love takes real communication, faith, and compromise. It’s not as easy as eternal devotion or “imprinting” on your perfect mate. Relationships do end and sometimes we do get hurt. But it’s that uncertainty that makes it so worthwhile, isn’t it? In real life, I’d much rather have a partner who chooses me every day over one who is compelled to be with me by some irresistible force. No question.

I don’t feel guilty about occasionally enjoying the fantasy of a Twilight-style romance because I know it’s not a manual for my real-life relationships. For that, I turn to my sources for good relationship advice, like TheSafeSpace.org,
But for a little bit of escape from the real world, I’ll happily turn to a world where eternal love is possible, the only real dangers are werewolves and vampires, and good will always prevail in the end.

4 comments:

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  2. hey, those were excellent points! i think they made perfect sense. i was into a violent relationship for over 4 years, but it wasnt all like that. the begining was just like twilights, and had all the warning signs, but i thought it was romantic blah blah... i think their should be given awareness about these books to the youth, to remind them of your point exactly...that it is not reality. just as we give reminders to young boys about violent games, just information. i always think children have their own minds, but it can be influenced, so its good to keep them informed.

    nice post!

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Anonymous. I think that these books offer an excellent opportunity to start the discussion about healthy relationships, dating violence warning signs, and expectations for romantic relationships. Teachers, parents, older sisters and brothers - anyone with a young Twilight fan in their life - can get the conversation going by just taking a little time to read the book and asking a few questions. It's never too early to start the conversation about healthy relationships.

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